Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Maxwell's equations


Wormholes are fascinating cosmological objects that can connect two distant regions of the universe. Because of their intriguing nature, constructing a wormhole in a lab seems a formidable task. A theoretical proposal by Greenleaf et al. presented a strategy to build a wormhole for electromagnetic waves. Based on metamaterials, it could allow electromagnetic wave propagation between two points in space through an invisible tunnel. However, an actual realization has not been possible until now. Here we construct and experimentally demonstrate a magnetostatic wormhole. Using magnetic metamaterials and metasurfaces, our wormhole transfers the magnetic field from one point in space to another through a path that is magnetically undetectable. We experimentally show that the magnetic field from a source at one end of the wormhole appears at the other end as an isolated magnetic monopolar field, creating the illusion of a magnetic field propagating through a tunnel outside the 3D space. Practical applications of the results can be envisaged, including medical techniques based on magnetism.

Concepts: Electron, Electromagnetism, Magnetic field, Electromagnetic radiation, Maxwell's equations, Wave, Universe, Magnetostatics


That the speed of light in free space c is constant has been a pillar of modern physics since the derivation of Maxwell and in Einstein’s postulate in special relativity. This has been a basic assumption in light’s various applications. However, a physical beam of light has a finite extent such that even in free space it is by nature dispersive. The field confinement changes its wavevector, hence, altering the light’s group velocity vg. Here, we report the subluminal vg and consequently the dispersion in free space of Laguerre-Gauss (LG) beam, a beam known to carry orbital angular momentum. The vg of LG beam, calculated in the paraxial regime, is observed to be inversely proportional to the beam’s divergence θ0, the orbital order ℓ and the radial order p. LG beams of higher orders travel relatively slower than that of lower orders. As a consequence, LG beams of different orders separate in the temporal domain along propagation. This is an added effect to the dispersion due to field confinement. Our results are useful for treating information embedded in LG beams from astronomical sources and/or data transmission in free space.

Concepts: Quantum mechanics, Fundamental physics concepts, Physics, Maxwell's equations, General relativity, Spacetime, Special relativity, Speed of light


Electronic phase separation is one of the key features in correlated electron oxides. The coexistence and competition of multiple phases give rise to gigantic responses to tiny stimuli producing dramatic changes in magnetic, transport and other properties of these compounds. To probe the physical properties of each phase separately is crucial for a comprehensive understanding of phase separation phenomena and for designing their device functions. Here we unravel, using a unique p-n junction configuration, dynamic properties of multiple phases in manganite thin films. The multiple dielectric relaxations have been detected and their corresponding multiple phases have been identified, while the activation energies of dielectric responses from different phases were extracted separately. Their phase evolutions with changing both temperature and applied magnetic field have been demonstrated by dielectric response. These results provide a guideline for exploring the electronic phase separation phenomena in correlated electron oxides.

Concepts: Magnetic field, Fundamental physics concepts, Maxwell's equations, Physical quantities, Capacitor, Dielectric, Dielectric spectroscopy, Permittivity


Among photofunctional materials that can be employed to control the propagation of light by modifying their properties, soft dielectrics such as nematic liquid crystals (NLCs) stand out for their large all-optical response. Through reorientation, the molecular distribution of NLCs can be modified by the electric field of light, permitting functional operations and supporting self-localized light beams or spatial optical solitons. To date, the generation and routing of such solitons have been limited by the boundary conditions employed to tailor the properties of NLCs in planar cells or capillaries. Here we report on spatial solitons in bulk NLCs with no lateral anchoring, where the application of an external magnetic field effectively controls the direction of propagation and the angular steering of the self-trapped wavepackets. Our results entail a completely new approach to the routing of self-localized beams and light-induced waveguides in three dimensions, without the usual limitations imposed by transverse boundary conditions.

Concepts: Electron, Electromagnetism, Magnetic field, Optics, Light, Maxwell's equations, Dimension, Liquid crystal


In-plane transition-metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) quantum wells have been studied on the basis of first-principles density functional calculations to reveal how to control the electronic structures and the properties. In collection of quantum confinement, strain and intrinsic electric field, TMD quantum wells offer a diverse of exciting new physics. The band gap can be continuously reduced ascribed to the potential drop over the embedded TMD and the strain substantially affects the band gap nature. The true type-II alignment forms due to the coherent lattice and strong interface coupling suggesting the effective separation and collection of excitons. Interestingly, two-dimensional quantum wells of in-plane TMD can enrich the photoluminescence properties of TMD materials. The intrinsic electric polarization enhances the spin-orbital coupling and demonstrates the possibility to achieve topological insulator state and valleytronics in TMD quantum wells. In-plane TMD quantum wells have opened up new possibilities of applications in next-generation devices at nanoscale.

Concepts: Magnetic field, Quantum mechanics, Physics, Maxwell's equations, Condensed matter physics, Quantum dot, Dielectric, Electric displacement field


This paper reports a flexible and stretchable metamaterial-based “skin” or meta-skin with tunable frequency selective and cloaking effects in microwave frequency regime. The meta-skin is composed of an array of liquid metallic split ring resonators (SRRs) embedded in a stretchable elastomer. When stretched, the meta-skin performs as a tunable frequency selective surface with a wide resonance frequency tuning range. When wrapped around a curved dielectric material, the meta-skin functions as a flexible “cloaking” surface to significantly suppress scattering from the surface of the dielectric material along different directions. We studied frequency responses of multilayer meta-skins to stretching in a planar direction and to changing the spacing between neighboring layers in vertical direction. We also investigated scattering suppression effect of the meta-skin coated on a finite-length dielectric rod in free space. This meta-skin technology will benefit many electromagnetic applications, such as frequency tuning, shielding, and scattering suppression.

Concepts: Electromagnetic radiation, Maxwell's equations, Resonator, Nuclear magnetic resonance, Resonance, Radio, Microwave, Acoustic resonance


The way conduction electrons respond to ultrafast external perturbations in low dimensional materials is at the core of the design of future devices for (opto)electronics, photodetection and spintronics. Highly charged ions provide a tool for probing the electronic response of solids to extremely strong electric fields localized down to nanometre-sized areas. With ion transmission times in the order of femtoseconds, we can directly probe the local electronic dynamics of an ultrathin foil on this timescale. Here we report on the ability of freestanding single layer graphene to provide tens of electrons for charge neutralization of a slow highly charged ion within a few femtoseconds. With values higher than 10(12) A cm(-2), the resulting local current density in graphene exceeds previously measured breakdown currents by three orders of magnitude. Surprisingly, the passing ion does not tear nanometre-sized holes into the single layer graphene. We use time-dependent density functional theory to gain insight into the multielectron dynamics.

Concepts: Electron, Electromagnetism, Electric charge, Magnetic field, Fundamental physics concepts, Maxwell's equations, Electric current, Ion


The use of electric fields for signalling and control in liquids is widespread, spanning bioelectric activity in cells to electrical manipulation of microstructures in lab-on-a-chip devices. However, an appropriate tool to resolve the spatio-temporal distribution of electric fields over a large dynamic range has yet to be developed. Here we present a label-free method to image local electric fields in real time and under ambient conditions. Our technique combines the unique gate-variable optical transitions of graphene with a critically coupled planar waveguide platform that enables highly sensitive detection of local electric fields with a voltage sensitivity of a few microvolts, a spatial resolution of tens of micrometres and a frequency response over tens of kilohertz. Our imaging platform enables parallel detection of electric fields over a large field of view and can be tailored to broad applications spanning lab-on-a-chip device engineering to analysis of bioelectric phenomena.

Concepts: Time, Electromagnetism, Electric charge, Optics, Optical fiber, Maxwell's equations, Electrical engineering, Microphone


Invisibility to electromagnetic fields has become an exciting theoretical possibility. However, the experimental realization of electromagnetic cloaks has only been achieved starting from simplified approaches (for instance, based on ray approximation, canceling only some terms of the scattering fields, or hiding a bulge in a plane instead of an object in free space). Here, we demonstrate, directly from Maxwell equations, that a specially designed cylindrical superconductor-ferromagnetic bilayer can exactly cloak uniform static magnetic fields, and we experimentally confirmed this effect in an actual setup.

Concepts: Electromagnetism, Magnetic field, Electric field, Maxwell's equations, Invisibility, James Clerk Maxwell, Equations, Electromagnetic wave equation


We have designed, fabricated, and experimentally characterized a lens for the THz regime based on artificial dielectrics. These are man-made media that mimic properties of naturally occurring dielectric media, or even manifest properties that cannot generally occur in nature. For example, the well-known dielectric property, the refractive index, which usually has a value greater than unity, can have a value less than unity in an artificial dielectric. For our lens, the artificial-dielectric medium is made up of a parallel stack of 100 μm thick metal plates that form an array of parallel-plate waveguides. The convergent lens has a plano-concave geometry, in contrast to conventional dielectric lenses. Our results demonstrate that this lens is capable of focusing a 2 cm diameter beam to a spot size of 4 mm, at the design frequency of 0.17 THz. The results further demonstrate that the overall power transmission of the lens can be better than certain conventional dielectric lenses commonly used in the THz regime. Intriguingly, we also observe that under certain conditions, the lens boundary demarcated by the discontinuous plate edges actually resembles a smooth continuous surface. These results highlight the importance of this artificial-dielectric technology for the development of future THz-wave devices.

Concepts: Optics, Fundamental physics concepts, Maxwell's equations, Electromagnetic spectrum, Metamaterial, Birefringence, Dielectric, Permittivity